Stress is a psychological phenomenon often characterized by a feeling of emotional tension. Stress can come from anywhere and may affect you at any given point in your life. It is also a very common condition. The American Psychological Association estimates that over 44% of all Americans suffer from moderate to high-stress levels. The sad news is that stress has a lot of psychological and physical effects. In this post, we will be looking at how stress affects your body. We will also have a few tips that you can explore to deal with stress in your life.
Common Signs of Stress
Before we get to the effects of stress on your body, let’s first of all look at some of the common symptoms of stress. Here they are:
- Insomnia or lack of sleep
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Loss of concentration
- Increased agitation
- Low energy levels
- A decline in libido and sexual performance
- Reduced appetite and digestive problems
Effects of Stress on The body
Stress affects both the mind and the body, even though it is primarily a psychological condition. The extent of these effects however depends on the level of stress. Short-term stressful situations are less likely to have any long term effects on your body. But chronic stress, on the other hand, is different and may have some of the following effects:
· Tension Headaches and Migraines
Chronic stress can cause severe tension headaches and migraines. You see our body needs to disengage from the worries of daily life and recharge. Most of the time, this is achieved through sleep. However, people who suffer from chronic stress levels rarely disengage and this puts unnecessary pressure on the nervous system. Eventually, you will start to experience chronic migraines as a result. These migraines can last for a whole day if painkillers are not administered.
· Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Several studies show chronic stress increases the risk of heart disease substantially. When you are stressed out, your body releases a hormone known as cortisol. Studies show that high levels of cortisol increase blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. All these factors are known triggers of heart disease. Some studies also suggest that the increased levels of cortisol in the blood may lead to the buildup of plaque deposits in the arteries, another potential risk of heart disease.
· Effects on Reproductive Health
Chronic stress may also have adverse effects on reproductive and sexual health. The imbalance between sex and stress hormones is one of the leading causes of sexual health problems, including erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and frigidity. It will also lead to low sexual desire or libido.
As we have noted above, stress can lead to long term mental issues like depression. Elevated levels of stress, experienced over a long time, will lead to increased levels of cortisol in the body. This hormone often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’, is linked to an increased risk of depression and other mental health issues.
How to Manage Stress
Managing stress is not easy and it may require the help of a professional counselor. However, there are a few things you can start doing today. Here they are:
Working out regularly will significantly help you to relax your mind and body. It will also take your mind off things, helping you disengage at least for a few hours. People who exercise also sleep better, something that ultimately helps to alleviate stress levels.
· Take a Break
Sometimes a change can do wonders in our overall mental health. Something as simple as taking a vacation outside the city will reduce stress massively. It doesn’t even have to be a vacation. Just reflect on your life and try to identify things stressing you up. It could be your job or something else. But just take a small break away from everything and you will feel more rejuvenated when you come back.
· Spend Time with Others
There is nothing more difficult than going through stress on your own. This is why you need to spend more time with friends and loved ones. You can also organize fun events with close friends and just get away from the hustle of everyday life for a few hours.
· Talk to an Expert
Talking to a professional can help you get to the root cause of your stress and address it once and for all. Counselors will also help you through the process and give you practical tips that you can explore to keep your stress in check.
Well, stress is very common in the US and most parts of the world. What matters is how you deal with it and the tips above should help you out.